3 January, 2019 - 10:50 By Richard Taylor, Managing Director, Simpsons Creative

2018 was a very good year for creativity in advertising

I’ve said before that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but is that true of the ad game?  In previous posts I have looked at some of the best ads of all time.

But how does today’s advertising stack up against it? And do the tried and tested formulas of yesteryear still bring in the business?

2018 was a very good year for creativity in advertising and, yes, most of them pulled something new out of the old bag of tricks with humour, parody and spectacle being the active ingredients, plus a new category for our time – worthiness – of which more later.

Humour came to the rescue of KFC, who you may remember were forced to close hundreds of restaurants because they ran out of chicken earlier this year.

In a neat bit of crisis management, they issued a print ad apologising for the mess by rearranging the letters of KFC to spell ‘FCK’, a self-deprecating ploy that did the business in more ways than one – winning public sympathy and a rapid recovery of custom once the supply chain was sorted.

Parody came up trumps for Tide, the washing powder, with a hilarious series of spoof ads for car, beer, aftershave and fizzy drink ads that all turn out to be Tide ads. It even includes a parody of a parody.

Remember the Old Spice ad with the man on a white horse? He appears again in this but clutching a liquid Tide bottle instead of the aforesaid deodorant. Well, I guess you had to be there.

In the ad trade we have a saying: If you have something to say, say it. If you’ve got nothing to say, use showmanship.

You can’t accuse John Lewis commercials of being anything less than spectacular, and to announce their new partnership with Waitrose (OK, it’s a message, but not one to set you alight, exactly) they staged a primary school performance of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The production and props looked a mite too professional for a school show I thought, but the cute close-ups of the kids and cutaways to adoring parents and the anxious director in the wings evoked the required ‘ahh’ factor.

The tag line? ‘When you’re part of it, put your heart into it’. Whether it did anything for their share price remains to be seen though.

If nailing your colours to the mast in a support of a worthy cause does anything to increase your business is another open question, but Lacoste, amongst others, seem to think so. They came up with the idea of issuing limited edition polo shirts to represent the number of endangered species in the wild.

In each case they replaced their famous green crocodile logo with one of the endangered species in question. For example, they produced a limited edition of 350 with Sumatran tiger logos and 30 with Gulf of California Porpoise logos.

With just 1,775 shirts in the entire collection they effectively highlighted the problem and made a strong case for conservation. They also earned themselves some brownie points and, incidentally, sold out the whole edition.

So, creativity is still alive and kicking and its not all to do with having a big production budget, as the KFC and Lacoste campaigns prove. Apropos of which, if you’re looking for brilliant creativity on a shoestring, give me a ring. 2019 promises to be a very good year!

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